KI visiting faculty member Melody Loveless is a musician, performer, educator, and multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work ranges from live coding performance, generative sound installations, multisensory performance, and more. Kinetic Imaging wanted to welcome and introduce Melody Loveless, so Melody was kind enough to meet up on Zoom recently with Eric Millikin, KI Instructor and Communications Coordinator.
Eric Millikin: I’ve been following you on your Instagram and feel like I know you quite a bit already! Do you want to make an introduction for everyone reading?
Melody Loveless: Yeah, I could say a short introduction. I am a musician and creative technologist based in New York City. I work primarily with sound, and lately my work has involved a lot of music technologies in some way, so my focus has lately involved coding sound in particular. So, I will do things like use code to improvise with synthesizers and samples, and I also record my voice and play it back to do a live looping set up as well. I’m part of a band called Codie, and I’m also part of a band called Mylar, where I live code in both of them. My work also includes other things involving sound, like generative sound installations, interactive installations and sculpture. And yeah, that’s a good summary for my work.
Eric: Yeah, awesome. I don’t know if you want to name some specific recent things you’ve been working on, like cool new recent projects or anything like that?
Melody: Right! I would say I have a show with Mylar coming up this weekend [Editor’s note: That was the weekend after this interview was conducted; a video of Mylar is embedded at the end of this article!]. So, Mylar is a band that I live code in with a percussionist. She also does spoken text and singing. Her name is Caitlin Cawley. In that collaboration, I record her output as material and then I play it back, so that creates like a feedback loop, and we improvise heavily so we have tunes, but we’re just improvising. We’ve been doing a little bit more with that lately, especially since [when this interview was conducted] I’m about to leave for Richmond.
Eric: Cool. Yeah, you’re teaching two classes in the spring for VCU. Is that right? You teach a Max MSP class and a Live Coding class, right?
Melody: Yeah. And I’m also co-teaching with Stephen [Vitiello], graduate studio. Yeah, that’s the third one.
Eric: All right. So can you think of things that students can look forward to in your classes, like maybe start with like Max MSP? If I were a student, what cool things might I do in that class?
Melody: Right! In that class, we will be working a lot with interactive technologies and creating generative art. So if you’re interested in working with your camera and doing camera tracking, or if you’re interested in doing more with sound but might not have a traditional music background, my class should be a really fun way to learn more about your computer and technology while being an entry point to working with sound.
Eric: Cool! Yeah, and then how about your Live Coding class? Do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Melody: Yeah, it’s actually in a lot of ways, it’s very similar. A lot of the principles I said about the Max MSP class holds true. However, we do go over more than just live coding sound and visuals and discuss artists who incorporate choreography, weaving, text, and more! I would also say that it’s a performance-based class. So, if students don’t have performance experience, this could be a very good entry point.
Eric: Yeah, cool. And then do you want to talk about graduate studio a little bit, like what you maybe hope to help the current graduate students with? Because, I’m just thinking here, you have obviously first year graduate students who are still kind of getting started, and also then second year grads who are about to put together their final thesis exhibitions, you know?
Melody: Yeah, well, I would say that, in a lot of ways, I’m not that far away from being a student in a thesis class myself. I graduated maybe like five or six years ago, which I guess is some time, but you know, there’s a lot of things I can identify with, and I think that perspective will help. But also, you know, I think I have good ears, good taste, and I think I give thoughtful suggestions. I’m looking forward to just chatting about ideas and bouncing them back and forth and playing, and that’s something I really enjoy about sharing in-progress work. It’s because you have that opportunity to talk about someone’s work a little bit more. You also, in a way, get to know people a bit more, and I usually find seeing these different people’s perspectives also teaches me. And you know, I think that’s the energy and vibe that I bring. I’m really interested in hearing what other people have to say.
Eric: Cool, yeah. All right. You mentioned this a little bit, but I imagine many of the people who will read this interview, they know [KI faculty member] Kate Sicchio, who is one third of Codie with you. And so I don’t know if you want to talk about Codie a little bit or if you’ve get any cool stories about being involved in Codie?
Melody: Yeah, of course it’s cool working with Kate. It’s really nice having such a long relationship with an artistic collaborator through different phases in life, like me as a student and then her as now like mother to a toddler, you know? And so it’s interesting how Codie has changed, but then, like our personal lives have changed. And I don’t know. It’s fun!
Eric: Was there maybe an interesting show that the group of you did that came off in an unexpected way or something like that? Interesting place that you played?
Melody: You know, gosh, it feels so like a long time ago, but we had a tour in Europe once that was cool and I would say maybe one of my favorite gigs that we had was in Berlin. And, you know, it was just, American ladies on tour, doing our weird live coding, playing a gallery in Berlin. I think that’s a very special gig that we had.
Eric: Yeah, yeah. This is not a question I was expecting or planning to ask you, but you’re talking about touring in Europe. Do you want to talk at all about how the past two years of COVID has changed your practice and what you’ve been able to do?
Melody: Yeah, totally. You know, it’s interesting, thinking about Codie, Codie was a collaboration that I’m very happy to have had going because we were already working remotely and online before then. So like, Kate’s been at VCU for a few years, right? And so we’ve been using a VPN and like a networked collaborative text editor to live code together, right? So that was already kind of made for pandemic life, in a way. And so I’m happy that we had that to maintain. Otherwise, though, I’m looking forward to going out into the world more and the energy it’ll bring to my work.
Eric: My last question: Is there anything else you would like to tell people about your coming to VCU?
Melody: I think these classes are fun! I think I’m teaching, like those two classes that I first mentioned are classes that would make me really excited if I was a student, you know what I mean, and I think that’s the vibe I’m bringing.
Eric: Awesome! All right. I think we’re done, thank you, we’ve probably got this. I hope you and anyone reading this has a great semester.
Melody: Sweet! Thank you.
Melody will be part of an online art fair on February 25th for DigiAna Group, including performing and organizing a live stream concert. Details will be shared at http://digianagroup.com/
And Melody Loveless and Kate Sicchio are scheduled to be doing something in the DePillars Gallery in late March/early April. More details TBA!
This transcript has been lightly edited. Believe it or not, there were originally even more instances of the words “cool,” “awesome,” and/or “sweet.”